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Published: 22 October 2021

Average life expectancy at birth was exactly 79 years for boys and 84.6 years for girls in 2020

According to Statistics Finland, the life expectancy at birth was 79 years for boys and 84.6 years for girls in 2020. Compared to 2019, the life expectancy of boys shortened by 0.1 years and that of girls lengthened by 0.1 years. Life expectancy is an age-standardised indicator that describes the level of mortality observed during the calculation period.

Life expectancy at birth by sex in 1971 to 2020

Life expectancy at birth by sex in 1971 to 2020

Men are catching up with women in life expectancy

In 2020, the difference between sexes in life expectancy at birth was 5.6 years. In the past 30 years, the life expectancy of newborn boys has lengthened by 8.2 years and that of girls by 5.7 years. The difference between sexes was largest in the late 1970s when it was nine years.

The life expectancy of men aged 65 was 18.6 years and that of women aged 65 was exactly 22 years in 2020. Compared with 1990, the life expectancy of men aged 65 has lengthened by 4.9 years and that of women by 4.3 years.

Life expectancy of persons aged 65 by sex in 1971 to 2020

Life expectancy of persons aged 65 by sex in 1971 to 2020

Regional differences in life expectancy bigger for boys than for girls

In the period 2018 to 2020, the life expectancy of newborn boys was longest in Ostrobothnia, 81.1 years, and of newborn girls in Åland, 85.9 years. In turn, the life expectancy of newborn boys was shortest in North Karelia, 77.3 years, and of newborn girls in Kymenlaakso, 83.4 years.

Differences between regions in life expectancies were bigger for men than women. The life expectancy of a boy born in Ostrobothia was 3.8 years longer than in North Karelia, where boys’ life expectancy was shortest. For girls, the corresponding difference between the longest and shortest life expectancy was 2.5 years.

Men's life expectancy was shorter than that of women in all regions. In the period 2018 to 2020, the difference between sexes was biggest in North Karelia, where men’s life expectancy was 6.5 years shorter than women's. The difference between sexes was smallest in Ostrobothnia, 4.3 years.

For women, life expectancy at birth was highest in urban municipalities and for men in semi-urban municipalities, and lowest for both in rural municipalities, when municipalities are divided by the statistical grouping of municipalities. The life expectancy of newborn boys in urban municipalities, 79.2 years, was nearly one year longer than in rural municipalities, 78,3 years. The life expectancy of girls in urban municipalities was 84.6 years and in rural municipalities 84,2 years.

Examined by native language, there were differences in the lengths of life expectancy in the period 2018 to 2020. The life expectancy of boys speaking Swedish as their native language was 81.1 years, which is over two years longer than the life expectancy of boys speaking Finnish as their native language, 78.8 years. The difference for girls was similar but not as large. The life expectancy of girls speaking Swedish as their native language was 85.6 years and the life expectancy of girls speaking Finnish as their native language was a good year shorter, 84.4 years.

In a comparison of Nordic countries, the biggest changes in life expectancy occurred in Sweden in 2020

Finnish women fare well when comparing life expectancies in Nordic countries. During 30 years, the life expectancy has lengthened second most in Finland for both women and men.

Finnish women have over 35 years reached the same level of life expectancy as Sweden and Norway. In 2020, women's life expectancy was good 84 years in all three countries. Life expectancy of Danish women has remained on a lower level than in the other comparison countries throughout the reference period. In 2020, the life expectancy of Swedish women decreased by 0.4 years, which is more than ever before in the past 30 years.

Life expectancy at birth in Nordic countries in 1986 to 2020, females

Life expectancy at birth in Nordic countries in 1986 to 2020, females

In the 1980s, Finnish men had the shortest life expectancy in the Nordic countries. The difference compared to Danish men narrowed down by the mid-1990s, but in both countries the life expectancy was still around one to two years shorter than in Sweden and Norway in 2020. In 2020, men's life expectancy decreased for Swedish and Finnish men, for Swedish men for the first time in 35 years and relatively significantly (by around 0.7 years). For Norwegian and Danish men, in turn, life expectancy rose from the year before.

Life expectancy at birth in Nordic countries in 1986 to 2020, males

Life expectancy at birth in Nordic countries in 1986 to 2020, males

Source: Deaths 2020

Inquiries: Joni Rantakari 029 551 3249, info@stat.fi

Head of Department in charge: Hannele Orjala

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Updated 22.10.2021

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Deaths [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-2545. 01 2020. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 16.5.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/kuol/2020/01/kuol_2020_01_2021-10-22_tie_001_en.html